Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Diamonds in the Rough: Reading in the First Third of 2018







Diamonds in the Rough

Reading in the first third of 2018


I began the year with the Armada Sci-Fi collections 2 and 3, edited by Richard Davis in the late Seventies, and these set the tone (and the bar) for the months to come. Reading these was a case of revisiting stories I’d partly forgotten, but it also involved discovering new and similar stuff, too.

I enjoyed reading some Judy Blume and some PG Wodehouse, I loved memoirs by Eddie Sarfaty and Dave Hill from Slade. Neil and Sue Perryman’s tomes eavesdropping on their Doctor Who-viewing marathon have been my constant companion through the year so far, and they’ve kept me laughing throughout the adventures of ‘The Scruffy Drunk’, ‘The Pompous Tory’ and ‘The Mad One.’            

I went back in time to reread a lot of Enid Blyton. This time I focused on her magical stories – her Faraway Trees and pixies and goblins, and I was reminded of just how strange she could get. Lucy Mangan backed me up with her memoir ‘Bookworm’ on the subject of rereading books you loved as a kid. Though I felt, in the end, that her choices were all about finding quality. She was hunting out books that were demonstrably good and discarding the trash, as her reading tastes matured. I’ve always been on an endless search to turn up the diamonds in the rough, and to find good pages in all the mountains of cast-off and over-looked tat.

And so I entered into a phase of reading Tie-in fiction. I went to one of the most under-valued and debased genres of all and I went back to examine my own early love of novelizations. In the early days of spring I spent time with lots of favourite characters – Flash Gordon and Dale Arden; Batman, Robin and the Joker; Cagney and Lacey; Doctor Who; Spiderman and Aunt May; Scooby-Doo; Planet of the Apes and the crew of the Starship Enterprise. In an over-busy and sometimes rocky start to the year, these old pals have been a very steadying influence. It’s a nice thing to remember: if you start to get sad, those familiar characters are always there waiting for you to pick up where you left off.

My top reads and recommendations from the first third of 2018:

Armada Sci-Fi (four volumes) – edited by Richard Davis
So Here it is – David Hill
Mental – Eddie Sarfaty
Dr Omega: The Strike of Midnite – John Peel
Star Trek Legacies: Captain to Captain – Greg Cox
Bookworm – Lucy Mangan
The Further Adventures of Batman – edited by Martin H. Greenberg
The Day of the Doctor – Steven Moffat
Cagney and Lacey – Serita Deborah Stevens
Spiderman – Peter David
Lost Mars – edited by Mike Ashley
The Wife in Space (all volumes) – Neil and Sue Perryman
Scooby-Doo Team-Up – Sholly Fisch




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